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Rebecca Minkoff Brings Self-Service to Its SoHo Store With RFID

The fashion retailer is using technology from QueueHop to allow shoppers to select and pay for an item, then unlock its security hard tag based on RFID reads of that tag.
By Claire Swedberg

QueueHop's RFID-enabled hard tag comes with a built-in UHF chip and a pin that locks the tag to a product, such as a garment or accessory. Gao manufactured his own readers in-house and uses chips from a variety of vendors. (The system is agnostic for RFID tag chips, he says, while all hardware built into the reader is made for QueueHop by a third-party manufacturer).

For the Rebecca Minkoff deployment, the QueueHop app is displayed on a tablet mounted to the store wall above a piece of furniture housing two RFID readers. A customer first approaches this self-checkout station, then places an item of interest on the tablet. One of two readers built into the fixture interrogates the RFID tag embedded in the product's QueueHop hard tag and transmits that data to the QueueHop app on the iPad, which identifies the product and displays information about it. The QueueHop software displays this information on the iPad, because it links the ID number with the appropriate stock-keeping unit (SKU) and related information about the product. The shopper uses the tablet's credit-card swiping functionality to make a payment, and the software then updates that item's status as sold.

Uri Minkoff
Once the purchase is completed, the customer uses the second reader built into the unlock booth of the self-checkout station to remove the tag. He or she lowers the tag into a triangular slot, in which the reader captures the tag's ID number. The software then links that ID to a completed sale and—if that item has, in fact, been sold—prompts a mechanical unlocking unit to release the pin. This causes the tag to drop into the discard box at the bottom of the reading device, and the user can remove the accessory without the label and take it out of the store, along with a receipt. The customer can now leave the store, and the hard tag can be reused on another product.

Rebecca Minkoff launched the system at its SoHo store this month, and Minkoff says he is pleased with the results thus far. "We're very passionate about this technology," he states, adding that he intends to further test the system after the holiday shopping season. To date, he finds the self-service option is used more often on some days than on others, depending on whether customers are fully aware the feature is available.

The store is using the QueueHop hard tag, rather than simply the EPC UHF tags already applied to products, to provide added security. According to Minkoff, a thief could remove basic RFID tags from a product, or a person's body could block transmission if he or she wanted to steal a tagged item. However, by using both RFID and EAS magnetics in the hard tag, the store can combine security with anonymous self-service.

QueueHop also offers its app-based solution to allow customers to make purchases using their smartphone, if stores choose to provide that option. The system could work with either the QueueHop app or the store's own app, using the QueueHop content-management software. A customer would simply scan the QR code on a product's label and make a purchase using his or her phone. The store would then provide the unlocking station to unlock the hard tag attached to that item, once the QueueHop system had confirmed that the item had, indeed, been purchased. QueueHop is currently in conversations with several other retailers around the world about the app-based solution, as well as the version in use by Rebecca Minkoff.

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